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Travel Advice for Entrepreneurs: How to Unplug

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Are you in a business that experiences a summer lull? Did you use the slower time to pack your bags, book a plane ticket and get out into the wide, wide world?

Of course you didn’t. Because you run your own business, and the 18 hats you normally wear only goes down to 11 in the summer!

Now that Fall is almost upon us, it can seem out of the question to go anywhere – after all, there are supplies to order, invoices to prepare, orders to fill, websites to update and social media blitz. But what all that actually means is, you need a rest even more than the 9 to 5ers.

3 reasons to take a vacation as a busy entrepreneur

If it seems impossible for you to unplug, you’re not alone; Canadians get even less paid vacation time than Americans, and we don’t even necessarily use it all – as if the world would come crashing down if we weren’t at the office! Of course, paid vacation is an oxymoron if you’re self-employed. But it’s still important to give yourself time to unwind, for these reasons and many others:

  1. Travel renews you. With their 6-hour work days, the Scandinavians have got the right idea: time off leaves you refreshed, inspired, and totally ready to attack your business problems with the kind of vigor that gets things done. Contrast this with your current burned-out state and you’ll see why it’s important to rest your mind, body and spirit to become the kind of creative leader your business needs.
  2. Vacation allows your employees to step up. How will you know whether your staff has really got your back, unless you give them the chance to prove it – without micromanaging their affairs?
  3. Going away reveals what your business lacks. If you return to a disaster and employees who said they just didn’t know what to do in your absence – or if you left important clients high and dry – this will reveal the weak spots in your systems, which you’ll have to shore up if you intend to survive in the business world, since you simply can’t always be physically present to put out fires.

5 tips for small business owners to get away

If you understand the importance of going offline for a while but just aren’t sure how to accomplish it, we’ve got some great tips for you.

  1. Work ahead. This doesn’t mean putting in 18-hour days to get all the work done that you would have done during the vacation time, but it does mean making sure your systems are in tip-top shape to deal with things in your absence, briefing employees on your expectations, and completing important projects that would cause you stress on your vacation if left undone. The reward for your extra work? An extra mai-tai on the beach, perhaps!
  2. Ease into a vacation by starting with an extended weekend. Try leaving on a Wednesday and returning Monday morning; did the building burn down? No hate mail from your clients? Now you’re ready to try a full week.
  3. Make it a hassle-free trip. You probably have enough on your mind without worrying about missing urgent updates. So, start with an all-inclusive resort rather than a hut in Borneo…and get a rolling business tote to stash all your work and essentials for a stress-free experience.
  4. Build up your toolkit. Measurement tools like Google Analytics can show you how your website is doing while you’re gone; with online drives, you can share documents and information to keep an eye on your business as much as you want to, though we recommend a single daily check-in rather than a constant blow-by-blow.
  5. Taking time off regularly, whether it’s a couple of days or a full month, will encourage you to refine your systems so it gets easier and easier to go away and leave assistants (electronic or otherwise) in charge.

The bottom line? There may never be a ‘perfect’ time to take time away from your business. So go ahead, take some deep breaths and start making a vacation plan that really works. You’ll kick yourself for not doing it sooner.

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